Greensburg Daily News
The North Decatur boys basketball team built a big second-half lead, then held on late to advance 68-58 over Southwestern Hanover in the South Ripley Sectional 45 opener Tuesday.
The Chargers advanced on the strength of exceptional free throw shooting, bench play and composure during a critical period in the fourth quarter.
North (5-16) will play South Ripley (15-6) Friday night for a chance to defend its sectional championship. The Chargers (designated the home team) and Raiders will tip off at 6 p.m, followed by the 7:30 p.m. game between Switzerland County (16-4) and Austin (10-11).
“It’s the old cliche. You survive and advance.” said North head coach Kyle Nobbe. “I couldn’t be more excited to have an opportunity to play South Ripley. We’re looking forward to that challenge.”
North shot 29-for-33 (88 percent) from the foul line to help build a nine-point halftime lead, and used its trips to the stripe to secure the victory in the final minutes.
“We’ll take that every day,” said Nobbe of North’s foul shooting.
Senior John Hammersmith shot 10-for-10 from the stripe in the first half and led all scorers with 15 points, which turned out to be key. Nobbe credited production off the bench from freshmen Dayne Lecher, Andrew Hocker and Donovan Meyer in particular. Meyer scored five first-half points, including a 3-pointer that gave North a five-point cushion at 26-21 with 2:10 left in the first half. Lecher added four points before the break.
“It was good for Andrew Hocker to get out there and get his feet wet,” said Nobbe. “He played some good minutes for us. That’s why we had a lead in the third and fourth quarter. I’m really proud of our bench.”
North’s seniors combined for 29 points in the second half, which was crucial in helping North maintain its poise when the Rebels (5-17) pulled to within two with less than a minute left.
Hammersmith scored in spurts during a big third quarter, putting up eight points in a two-minute span early.
North shot 14-for-19 from the stripe in the final eight minutes. Senior Jason Kirchhoff shot 7-for-8 (87.5 percent) in the final two minutes, and added a score off a steal to ice the game. Senior Kevin Geis shot 4-for-4 in a two-minute span for four points, and senior Dylan Koors chipped in a rebound basket that gave North a 10-point lead at 55-45 late in the third period.
For Coach Nobbe, North’s composure down the stretch was the clincher.
“Our kids just did a great job of not panicking down the stretch,” he said. “I’m proud of their poise. Hammersmith was outstanding for us tonight from an offensive standpoint. Kirchhoff did some great things for us tonight, especially in the fourth quarter.”
Hammersmith tied a career-high with 29 points, including 14-for-15 (93 percent) from the foul line. Kirchhoff scored 11, Lecher scored nine and Geis added six. Meyer scored five, while Koors and freshman Zach Johnson chipped in four each.
3-pointers: Hammersmith 1, Lecher 1, Meyer 1.
Austin (10-11) beat Milan (9-12) 69-55 in Tuesday’s second game.
Contact Nick Gonnella at (812) 663-3111, x7003.